Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

hem1

[hem]
See more synonyms for hem on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), hemmed, hem·ming.
  1. to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc.); form an edge or border on or around.
  2. to enclose or confine (usually followed by in, around, or about): hemmed in by enemies.
Show More
noun
  1. an edge made by folding back the margin of cloth and sewing it down.
  2. the edge or border of a garment, drape, etc., especially at the bottom.
  3. the edge, border, or margin of anything.
  4. Architecture. the raised edge forming the volute of an Ionic capital.
Show More

Origin of hem1

before 1000; Middle English hem(m), Old English hem, probably akin to hamm enclosure; see home

hem2

[hem]
interjection
  1. (an utterance resembling a slight clearing of the throat, used to attract attention, express doubt, etc.)
Show More
noun
  1. the utterance or sound of “hem.”
  2. a sound or pause of hesitation: His sermon was full of hems and haws.
Show More
verb (used without object), hemmed, hem·ming.
  1. to utter the sound “hem.”
  2. to hesitate in speaking.
Show More
Idioms
  1. hem and haw,
    1. to hesitate or falter: She hemmed and hawed a lot before she came to the point.
    2. to speak noncommittally; avoid giving a direct answer: He hems and haws and comes out on both sides of every question.
Show More

Origin of hem2

First recorded in 1520–30; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

besetborderboundcagecirclecircumscribeconfinecorraldefineedgeencircleencompassenvelopenvironfencefringegirdleimmuremarginpen

Examples from the Web for hemming

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You will note that allowance must be made for hemming the back edge of the mainsail.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats

    Raymond Francis Yates

  • After that there were broken exclamations, and the coughing and hemming began again.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Hemming plunged into an orgie of riotous living when you refused him.

    The Golden Woman

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Hemming had been too long at sea not to know how to excite the spirit of seamen.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • After some consideration, Hemming stood up and addressed the men.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston


British Dictionary definitions for hemming

hem1

noun
  1. an edge to a piece of cloth, made by folding the raw edge under and stitching it down
  2. short for hemline
Show More
verb hems, hemming or hemmed (tr)
  1. to provide with a hem
  2. (usually foll by in, around, or about) to enclose or confine
Show More

Word Origin

Old English hemm; related to Old Frisian hemme enclosed land

hem2

noun, interjection
  1. a representation of the sound of clearing the throat, used to gain attention, express hesitation, etc
Show More
verb hems, hemming or hemmed
  1. (intr) to utter this sound
  2. hem and haw or hum and haw to hesitate in speaking or in making a decision
Show More
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hemming

hem

v.

late 14c., "to provide (something) with a border or fringe" (surname Hemmer attested from c.1300), from hem (n.). Related: Hemmed; hemming. The phrase hem in "shut in, confine," first recorded 1530s.

Show More

hem

n.

Old English hem "a border," especially of cloth or a garment, from Proto-Germanic *hamjam (cf. Old Norse hemja "to bridle, curb," Swedish hämma "to stop, restrain," Old Frisian hemma "to hinder," Middle Dutch, German hemmen "to hem in, stop, hinder"), from PIE *kem- "to compress." Apparently the same root yielded Old English hamm, common in place names (where it means "enclosure, land hemmed in by water or high ground, land in a river bend"). In Middle English, hem also was a symbol of pride or ostentation.

If þei wer þe first þat schuld puplysch þese grete myracles of her mayster, men myth sey of hem, as Crist ded of þe Pharisees, þat þei magnified her owne hemmys. [John Capgrave, "Life of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham," 1451]
Show More

hem

interj.

late 15c., probably imitative of the sound of clearing the throat. Hem and haw first recorded 1786, from haw "hesitation" (1630s; see haw (v.)); hem and hawk attested from 1570s.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper